Denisova breezes to win by 4:35

The most dominant performance in the sixth annual Baltimore Running Festival was produced by Lyubov Denisova, as the 35-year-old from Russia won the women's title in the half marathon by more than four minutes.

Denisova was timed in 1 hour, 15.14 minutes, well ahead of Shannon Saunders, a Virginia resident who was second in 1:19:49. A native of Moscow, Denisova is preparing for the Honolulu Marathon in December. She has run under 2:27 five times.


Valentine Orare, a Kenyan, pulled away from Ethiopian Worku Beyi to take the men's race in 1:03.45. A total of 3,863 finished the half marathon, the most popular race in the Baltimore Running Festival. Baltimore's Dave Berdan, 25, and Forest Hill's Elizabeth Blom, 26, were the top Maryland finishers.

The finish line closed at 3 p.m., with 2,148 completing the marathon in seven hours, and 9,436 finishers total in the Baltimore Running Festival.


Emmanuel Chamer took a photo finish from fellow Kenyan Nicodemus Malakwen in the United Way 5K. Both were timed in 14:38. Kenyan Florence Jepkosgei won the women's race by 30 seconds.

The Falls Road Running Store won the Legg Mason Team Relay for the fifth time in six years. Ray Pugsley opened a substantial lead on the elite marathoners during the opening six-mile leg. He was followed by Brian Godsey, Kip Bytok and Eric Estrada. The Blue Badgers repeated in the Mixed Division of the team relay.

Medical students John "Spider" Sillery and Phebe Ko were the top city finishers in the marathon.

Ko, a first-year student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was eighth among women in a personal best of 2:49:23. She's closing in on the Olympic trials qualifying standard of 2:47. Sillery chopped nearly 10 minutes off his time from last year, as he went out with the lead pack and was 13th in 2:28:38.

Old friends

There was an impromptu reunion in the men's marathon, where Steve Kartalia finished 22nd, Rob Magin 26th and Mark Gilmore 34th. All ran with distinction for Westminster High in the 1980s. As Kartalia said: "Mark, Rob and I ran a lot of miles together today."

"I didn't even know they were going to be running until today," Magin said.

Kartalia, a two-time state cross country champion, went to the Olympic trials in 1992 and '96. He used the inaugural Baltimore Marathon in 2001 as a training run, and said that yesterday was his first serious marathon since Dublin in 1998.


Kartalia, 41, finished third in the Masters Division, behind Navy officer John Piggott and Chris Chattin, 42. Chattin, who raced for Franklin High and the University of Maryland, wanted to break 2:40, and was delighted with his 2:38:48.

Glen Burnie native Chris Ciamarra, 35, was 44th in the men's marathon. He was a regular in the first three Baltimore Marathons, finishing fifth in 2002. Injury, marriage and a move to Georgia kept him from participating the past two years, but, Ciamarra said, "I can't miss Baltimore anymore, unless I'm so hurt I can't run."


Hijame Nishi, the "ecomarathoner" from Japan whose goals include running 1,000 different marathons, completed No. 481 in Baltimore yesterday. He planned to do No. 482 today, at the DuPont Forest Trail Marathon in North Carolina. ... Diane Malloy of Phoenix, Md., was the first woman over 50 to finish the marathon, taking 30th in 3:29:30. ... Amanda White Pagon, 31, the first to earn The Sun's High School Athlete of the Year honor twice, was 17th among women, in 3:19:10.